My whole life I have prided myself on being smarter than white people. As a fourth-year Africana and African American studies major, I dedicated my academic career to studying the legacies of Black history and thought. This was all shattered when my white classmate corrected me during a class discussion. Apparently, according to her, the March on Washington took place in 1963 and not 1965.
I have never been more embarrassed in my life.
The silence in the classroom when she “innocently” corrected me in the form of a clarifying question was deafening. After confirming the accuracy of Kelsey’s words my professor quickly moved on from the altercation but I could feel her losing respect for me. Help! How do I come back from this egregious blunder? How will I explain this to my family? I know they don’t know about it, but what if someone was secretly filming and it goes viral and then my aunt who’s still pretty with it sees and emails it to my mom and dad?
And family aside, how could my classmate do this to me? Not only did I lose my sense of self, but I also lost my ability to trust people. I thought Black lives mattered to her. I cannot put my finger on it, but this seems to classify as a hate crime. Is there a witness protection program for something like this?
I cannot bear the humiliation of being the Black woman who was corrected by their white classmate. But apparently, I’m not the only one. Right after class, I received an email stating that I was formally removed from the Black Students’ Union listserv and that I was no longer welcome to chapter meetings.
Should I switch my major or just drop out, ghost everyone, and live as a recluse in the woods. This seemed to work for Salinger and Thoreau. Of course, they were both of Kelsey experience, racially. And Thoreau’s mom still did his laundry, so maybe it won’t be one-for-one but I’m pretty sure I can work something out.
So, to the Black people reading this, please forgive me. It was an honest mistake. To my white classmate, if you are reading this, I hope you are pleased to know that just like your ancestors you have ruined yet another Black life. And you call yourself an ally. I bid you all adieu, please do not come searching for me, I can no longer show my face out in public.